Barking and Dagenham Council seized thousands of illegal cigarettes and medicines after raiding shops across the borough.

The raids, on December 21 and 22, saw the council’s trading standards and licensing teams partner with the police and a specialist sniffer dog company.

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Known as 'Operation CeCe', trading standards used a test purchaser a few days earlier to see which shops were selling illegal cigarettes.

In one shop, officers seized more than 4,000 illegal cigarettes, and in several others, hundreds of illegal medicines were confiscated. 

One shop was even closed after officers discovered a member of staff under 18 was selling alcohol on his own.

Medicines seized included anti-depressants, antibiotics, steroids and erectile dysfunction tablets.

Councillor Syed Ghani, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety said: “We’re determined to keep all of our residents safe and that is why it is important for us to take products, such as illegal cigarettes or medicines off the streets.

“These products often don’t follow the guidelines required to be sold in the UK and could contain things that could potentially have a harmful impact on someone’s health.”

Officers seized illegal tobacco and medicines from 10 shops, totalling almost £20,000.

These shops now face further investigation including reviews of their premises licences, the council said.